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About Us

Our Mission:

susan and vernell cutting out blanketsOn a foundation of Christian faith, Martha O'Bryan Center empowers children, youth, and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment and fellowship.
 

History

Martha O’Bryan Center (MOBC) was founded in 1894 and began operating at its current site in Cayce Place of East Nashville in 1948. Our values and physical location at the heart of the community we serve allow us to be uniquely responsive to clients.  MOBC programs join family, community, and schools to support better education and employment opportunities for our city’s most vulnerable families. 
 
We serve over 6,000 individuals each year (40% are 18 years and younger) through a continuum of cradle to college to career services. These people are proving that the line between poverty and potential can be broken. 
 

Target Service Population

Income poverty means simply the lack of income or a shortage of material goods, but human poverty means much more. It can include the loss of dignity, a sense of powerlessness, a lack of autonomy and control, and the feeling of being marginalized or excluded politically, socially, or psychologically. The deprivation of what most of society considers necessary can result in the diminution of aspirations and achievements, especially for children in poverty who are very aware of what they are missing. (Metropolitan Social Services Community Needs Evaluation 2011 Update)
 
East Nashville is a neighborhood unlike any other in the Nashville area. With nationally recognized small businesses and restaurants, our community is a beacon of creativity, diversity, and acceptance; but ours is also a neighborhood where over 60% of high school students read on a sixth grade level or below, 9 of 10 children do not attend college, unemployment is 15% above the Davidson County average, and the drop out rate is 23% above the county average.
 
East Nashville is geographically isolated from the rest of the city by the Cumberland River and the interstate system. Imagine that feeling of isolation as an every day occurrence, with no end date on the calendar. This is the reality for many of our neighbors in living in poverty.
 
Since 1894, the Martha O’Bryan Center has provided resources to individuals and families, empowering them to achieve independence and success. We believe that communities are healthiest when parents are working and children are succeeding in schools. Thanks to our supporters, volunteers, partners and the families we serve, we are together changing the expectations of achievement and engagement for all in East Nashville. We are breaking the line.
 
Currently, Martha O'Bryan Center serves primarily children, youth, and families living in and around Cayce Place, Nashville's oldest and largest public housing development. It is also one of the poorest, with an average annual household income of $6,175. Cayce Place comprises 710 rental units with 2,400 residents crowded onto 63 acres. 88% of the population is African American; 89% of households are headed by a single woman; 59% of the residents are children under the age of 18.
 
We also serve families from the CWA Plaza Apartments, a development that houses 803 residents, 55% of whom are under the age of 18, and a large number of single-parent, female heads of households. A rapidly increasing immigrant population also characterizes these apartments with approximately 35% being Somali or Sudanese. 
 
Children from these families attend Maplewood and Stratford clusters, schools which are economically disadvantaged within the Metro Nashville School Systems. These schools have difficulties keeping students on track with literacy skills, reporting that 10% are below proficiency in reading and language and higher among ESL students. Nearly 25% of the students at Stratford High School do not graduate on time. Only 9% of males and 10% of females in our neighborhood complete post-secondary education—not even half as many as the national average which is 27% for males and 23% for females.

Strategic Partnerships 

Martha O'Bryan Center and its extensive network of partners empower families to overcome their roadblocks to success. To provide expertise in specialized areas, we refer families to one or more of our many partners. Partners vary according to need. For example, for our Tied Together parenting program, these include Cayce Family Health Center, Nurses for Newborns, Tennessee Voices for Children, Nashville Public Libraries, and Our Kids. Other partners include, but are not limited to: MDHA (Metropolitan Development Housing Agency), HUD (Housing and Urban Development), CCW Learning Center, the YMCA, Oasis Center, Centerstone, Second Harvest, TAMCO (Tennessee Asset Management Company), Mental Health Cooperative, TN Department of Human Services, Metro Refugee Program, the Alcohol and Drug Council of Middle Tennessee, United Neighborhood Health Services, teachers and counselors from the Stratford and Maplewood clusters, Metro Social Services Relative Caregiver program, and Vanderbilt Counseling services.

Whistleblower policy

If any employee reasonably believes that some policy, practice, or activity of the Center is in violation of law, a written complaint may be filed by that employee with the Chief Executive Officer.

It is the intent of the Center to adhere to all laws and regulations that apply to the organization, and the underlying purpose of this policy is to support the organization's goal of legal compliance. The support of all employees is necessary to achieving compliance with various laws and regulations. An employee is protected from retaliation only if the employee brings the alleged unlawful activity, policy, or practice to the attention of the Center and provides the Center with a reasonable opportunity to investigate and correct the alleged unlawful activity. The protection described below is only available to employees that comply with this requirement.

The Center will not retaliate against an employee who, in good faith, has made a protest or raised a complaint against some practice of the Center, or of another individual or entity with whom the Center had a business relationship, on the basis of a reasonable belief that the practice is in violation of law or a clear mandate of public policy.

The Center will not retaliate against an employee who discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or a public body any activity, policy, or practice of the Center that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, or a rule, or regulation mandated pursuant to law or is in violation of a clear mandate or public policy concerning health, safety, welfare, or protection of the environment.

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